The average music educator now remains in the profession three years. Some Iowa schools, unable to hire degreed choral musicians, are now allowing non-degreed personnel to work with their choirs.

In response to these statistics and situations, ICDA has implemented a mentor program. A few years ago, ICDA sponsored what it called a mentor program; in reality, it was a buddy program. ICDA's new program bears only a limited resemblance to that endeavor and is now based heavily on research and professional training.

In launching the new mentor program, ICDA will first and foremost help young choral specialists in establishing themselves confidently in the profession. But just as importantly, it will also provide opportunities for seasoned conductors to retain their enthusiasm for their work and to reflect upon their methods and reasons for doing business in rehearsals, classes, and voice lessons.

ICDA’s mentor program has been growing, since its inception in 1998 under the leadership of Marcella Henderson and then Perry Bekkerus. It is now part of a coordinated effort between IBA, ISTA, and IMEA. Martha Kroese has created a Google document that shows all new teachers in the state, and then the mentor chairs of the four organizations work to match the new teachers with mentors.

In February of 2000, Perry Bekkerus was appointed to succeed Henderson as the coordinator of the program. As Bekkerus began his term, he continued Henderson's work matching mentees with mentors and helping them to establish and maintain regular contact with one another informally via e-mail and phone conversations, as well as in person during ICDA events and programs throughout the year.

It became apparent early on that a coordinated effort between all professional music organizations was necessary to prevent some new teachers – particularly at the elementary level – from "slipping through the cracks." Since Bekkerus also serves as Mentoring Chair for the Iowa Music Educators Association, he began working on ICDA President Aimee Beckman-Collier's idea of a brochure that would be sent to all building principals in the state. This brochure would be sponsored by ICDA, IMEA, the Iowa Bandmaster's Association, and the Iowa String Teachers Association. The project, titled "Music Mentors of Iowa," would coordinate identification of potential mentees in all music areas Pre-K through 12, and would also share mentoring strategies between disciplines. Finally, it was felt that one brochure from all music organizations would make a stronger impact on administrators and generate a larger response than a letter from each organization alone.

If you would like to be a mentor, if you are a beginning teacher and would like a formal mentor, or if you would like further information about ICDA's mentor program, contact Jason Rausch at mentor@iowachoral.org.


If you are a beginning teacher — in your first, second, or third year — download the Beginning Teacher Guide. This handbook has the latest ideas on how to get started successfully in your new music classroom.

Handbook for the Mentee

If you are a mentor, download the Mentor Guide. This Handbook has the lastest information on how you can be a top-notch mentor for a new teacher. Mentors might also be interested in the Beginning Teacher Handbook as well.

Handbook for the Mentor